Former President Ronald Wilson Reagan Biography


The United States has been privileged to have brilliant leaders that played critical roles in shaping world history. Among these great leaders is Ronald Wilson Reagan. Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. Reagan grew in Illinois since birth before moving to other states. Reagan studied economics and sociology at Eureka College and earned a bachelor’s degree. After graduating, he started working as a radio announcer and then transitioned into acting movies alongside a part-time rescuer and swimming coach. Reagan married actress Jane Wyman with whom he had two children before they divorced. Without a doubt, his story is one that should be told and remembered as one of those men that are committed to chasing their dreams. As such, this paper draws attention to some of Reagan’s significant life events, with a close focus on his journey and impact on the United States during his time as President.


In comparison with other prior Presidents in the U.S, Reagan stands as one of the influential leaders in the State’s history. He is remembered for his strong governance and dedication to freedom and democracy. This paper provides an overview of Reagan’s life and highlights some of the major events that occurred during his presidency. From being a common drunk and dreamer, actor to the head of the U.S, his entire life was full of interesting experiences and accomplishments. Reagan joined politics and became the governor of California. He successfully served two terms as governor before running for the presidency and assuming office. His presidency spanned two significant conflicts, including the Cold War and Iran-Contra.

Reagan achieved several accomplishments, such as lowering taxes and increasing military spending. Former president Ronald Reagan, regarded as one of the most significant American presidents ever elected, portrayed outstanding leadership abilities and devotion to freedom and democracy. As the only movie actor ever to serve as president of the United States, Reagan possessed adorable communication skills. His policies had significant effects on the United States and the international realm. His commitment to freedom and democracy has lived on through history. Reagan’s impact on the world continues to live today as his legacy.

Early Life and Education

Ronald Reagan grew up in a typical small-town Midwest home. Jack’s parents were both shoe sellers. His mother, Nelle, was a housewife. Reagan’s older brother, Neil, served as a role model for him. Reagan’s father passed away when he was young, and his mother later remarried. Reagan’s stepfather, Edgar, was a strict disciplinarian. As a result, Reagan grew to appreciate the power of hard work and obedience at an early age. Reagan’s childhood was characterized by scrapes and thrills (Coste, 2018). For example, while he was in his routine playing beneath a train that suddenly began to move one day, he was narrowly saved from death. He schooled in Dixon high school, where he graduated in 1928.

During his education life, he took part in games where he was actively involved in basketball and soccer. In addition, he was elected as a president in the student body, acted in school plays, and contributed to the yearbook. He has been known for being a tremendous swimmer since childhood. He worked in consecutive six summers as a rescuer, particularly on the perilous Rock River near Dixon. As a result, Reagan grew to appreciate the power of hard work and obedience at an early age. Reagan’s childhood was characterized by scrapes and thrills.

Reagan began his academic career of dishwashing at his community building at Tau Kappa and a woman’s residence to cover the rest of his tuition. While enrolled, he operated as an instructor in swimming and as an experienced rescuer to make ends meet. He was elected to the student body at the age of 17 in 1929 (Prasad, 2018). He also experienced politics early on: while a freshman, he delivered a stirring speech in support of Eureka students who had gone on strike to restore courses that the school administration had canceled owing to economic difficulties brought about by the Depression.

Ronald Reagans Early Career and Marriage

Ronald Reagan, like every adolescent, had his own set of questions regarding his professional path. He took an interest in sports broadcasting while attending college and was able to call several college football activities. Reagan also worked as a sportscaster for WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa, during this period (Morgan, 2019). It was during this time that Reagan met his future wife, Jane Wyman. The two were married in 1940 and had two children together: Maureen and Michael. In October 1948, Wyman filed for divorce from Reagan, claiming “mental cruelty” (Morgan, 2019). The pair divorced in 1949. In 1952, Nancy Davis became Ronald Reagan’s wife and was privileged to have two children.

Reagan’s Start in Acting

After moving to California, Reagan started his acting career in 1937 with the Warner Brothers film studio. His first role was in the movie before he began to appear in a number of films over the next few years, including “Knute Rockne, All American” and “King’s Row” (Morgan, 2019). Reagan was typecast as a handsome but superficial leading man. In order to change this image, he started to take on more serious roles.

In California, he became a sports broadcaster where he covered the club training season in 1937 at Chicago spring. During this period, Reagan performed a screen test for all his Warner brothers. Although he was under contract, he ensured in the same year his film was debuted in his capacity as a news reporter on the radio. Throughout three successive decades, he was made to appear in close to fifty movies. In 1940, George Gipp captured him in a biographical movie, which featured other characters such as Notre, a football player. In the movie, Reagan’s famous statement is “Win one for the Gipper,” which he is still remembered for. He also acted in “The Story of Louis Pasteur” (1936) and “Kings Row,” a drama about an injured war veteran who awakens just to realize that he had amputated legs and screams.

In both films, he was cast as a victim of an accident. By this time, he had firmly entrenched himself in Hollywood as an icon (Prasad, 2018). While writing about the future President, Coste (2018) quotes, “It was a sign that he knew exactly what he wanted, and it eliminated the need for us to tell him. If one took notice of his actions in this clip, which I’m sure you did since you watched until the end, then you can see that behind every successful man, there has always been a woman supporting him (which says something about female weakness).” In general, it became obvious during Richard’s discovery that he had made best achievement in action epics and comedies. He also realized that he had self-deprecatingly referred to himself as “the Errol Flynn,” implying low-budget pictures that had the ability to make a huge amount of money.

Reagan’s Political Career Begins

Given his background that was riddled by experiences with communism and anti-communism, it was no surprise that Reagan became increasingly interested in politics during the 1950s. He joined the Republican Party and campaigned for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidential bid in 1952. In 1962, Reagan ran for governor of California on a platform of reducing taxes and increasing law and order. He lost the election to Democrat Pat Brown. Soon after, however, in 1966, Reagan ran for governor again, but this time was successful (Byrne, 2018). During his tenure as governor, Reagan reduced taxes and increased spending on law enforcement. He also approved a controversial bill that allowed police to detain criminal suspects without a warrant. This bill later became the basis for the War on Drugs.

In 1980, Reagan was in for a presidential race against Jimmy, who was an incumbent. After the election, Reagan was pronounced a winner, after which he became the 40th ruler of the U.S. As President, he pursued a conservative agenda. He reduced taxes, increased military spending, and attempted to reduce government regulation. Morgan (2019) reiterates he signed into law several pieces of legislation that were later called the “Reagan Revolution.”

His swearing as the U.S president was done in January the following year after his winning. Shortly after taking the presidential oath, however, he became the target of an assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr. Reagan was shot in the chest by Hinckley, and while he appeared to recover quickly afterward, it was later revealed that one of the bullets had penetrated his lung (Byrne, 2018). He underwent surgery and spent several weeks recovering in the hospital. In the aftermath of the attack, Reagan’s popularity only increased. He was widely seen as a strong leader who had handled the situation with grace and composure. As such, his approval rating remained high throughout his presidency, even in the face of some difficult challenges.

During his time as President, Ronald Reagan was known for pushing a number of conservative policies on domestic issues. He was a staunch advocate of reducing the size of government, and he made cutting taxes a top priority. He also supported measures that would reduce regulations on businesses. Reagan’s policies were often controversial, and they frequently met with opposition from Democrats in Congress. However, by the end of his second term, he had managed to enact a number of major laws that significantly impacted the nation. When it came to foreign policy, Ronald Reagan was widely recognized as being one of the most powerful Presidents. He was a strong supporter of capitalism and democracy, and he worked to promote these ideals around the world. He also took a hardline stance against communism, and he took a major role during the Cold Battle. His foreign rule legacy is still felt today, and his impact on the world is undeniable.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan ran for re-election against Democratic challenger Walter Mondale. Reagan was widely seen as the favorite to win, and he ultimately did so by a landslide. He won 49 of the 50 states in the election, and he became the first President to ever receive more than 50% of the popular vote twice (Coste, 2018). The 1984 election was largely seen as a referendum on Reagan’s policies, and the overwhelming victory was a clear indication that the American people approved of what he had done during his first term.

Reagan’s Accomplishments

Ronald Reagan was an effective president who accomplished a great deal during his two terms in office. He also presided over a period of economic prosperity and made significant cuts to government spending. Reagan’s first term was largely devoted to ending the Cold War. He worked closely with the Soviet leader, Gorbachev, to alleviate weapons stockpiles and end the Cold War. This ultimately led to the collapse of the Union in 1991 (Coste, 2018). In addition to his foreign policy achievements, Reagan also presided over a period of economic prosperity. The economy grew by 4 percent annually during his tenure, and unemployment fell from 10 percent to 5 percent (Coste, 2018). He also made significant cuts to government spending, which helped reduce the budget deficit.

Reagan’s second term was largely devoted to domestic policy issues. He signed into law several major pieces of legislation, including The Immigration Act that was signed in 1986, also known as IRCA. The Tax policies enacted in the same year were two major pieces of legislation passed during the administration of Ronald Reagan (Bryne, 2018). He also increased defense spending, which led to a period of peace and prosperity. Overall, Ronald Reagan was an effective president who accomplished a great deal during his two terms in office. He is best known for his effort in ensuring the Cold Battle came to an end. Similarly, he presided over a period of economic prosperity and made significant cuts to government spending.

Furthermore, the culmination of the Cold Combat was accompanied by substantial transformations in the Soviet Union during Ronald Reagan’s administration. Mikhail began to push for democracy and free-market economics in the Soviet Union under his leadership. In 1987, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed on a nuclear pact, which reduced both countries’ atomic stockpiles. Reagan’s attitude towards the Soviet Union helped to bring about its dissolution. Most crucially, his domestic policies were also highly influential. He championed laissez-faire economics and promoted a program of tax cuts known as “supply-side economics.” This philosophy, sometimes called “Reaganomics,” is credited with stimulating economic growth in the 1980s (Prasad, 2018). However, it also led to large budget deficits and an increase in income inequality. In terms of foreign policy, he began his term determined to repair the United States’ image in the world and rebuild its military might. He pushed for significant boosts in defense spending to enlarge and update the army. The President further pushed for a more belligerent method to help in reducing communism and other left-wing totalitarianism.

Reagan is also credited for commencing the process of structuring relations with the People’s Republic of China, which had been estranged from the U.S. since the 1949 Chinese. Communist Revolution by Reagan’s economic policies, known as “Reaganomics,” advocated a free-market fiscal policy coupled with reduced government spending and regulation. His supply-side economic theories have been credited with revitalizing the U.S. economy during the 1980s. Conversely, in April 1981, he authorized a secret operation to rescue American hostages being held in Iran; the operation ended in disaster when two helicopters collided in the Iranian desert, killing eight servicemen. On May 19, 1981, John Hinckley shot Reagan, and this led to his admission to the hospital for some time (Prasad, 2018). Luckily he returned to work after recovery in a few weeks. In September 1981, Reagan put into law the Tax Act of 1981, lowering marginal tax rates while simplifying the code. He also signed the Tax Equity Act 1983; raising taxes on higher-income individuals to offset the cost of his own tax cut.

Ronald Reagan’s view on anti-communism, which was a primary backbone of his foreign policy, stemmed from both his personal experiences and philosophical beliefs. Reagan once said, “The struggle now going on for the free world is more than a contest between two great powers or even two great systems of government. It is a test of whether free men can govern themselves” (Prasad, 2018). During his time in office, Reagan supported anti-communist rebel groups’ worldwide and authorized the military to give aid.

The Reagan Doctrine is named after this policy, enacted under President Ronald Reagan. Although Congress had prohibited it, he publicly affirmed his backing of the Contras in Nicaragua in 1986. The Reagan administration was marked by a series of crises in the Middle East. In 1982, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon in an attempt to drive out the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which had been using the country as a base for attacks on Israel (Prasad, 2018). The invasion led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including many women and children, and caused a worldwide outcry. Reagan initially supported the invasion but later condemned the use of excessive force.

Reagan on Economy and Morality

Reagan’s domestic policies were also highly influential. He championed laissez-faire economics and promoted a program of tax cuts known as “supply-side economics” (Wills, 2017). This philosophy, sometimes called “Reaganomics,” is credited with stimulating economic growth in the 1980s. However, it also led to large budget deficits and an increase in income inequality. It has been widely acknowledged that he also had a significant impact on American culture. His “moral majority” movement helped to give voice to religious rights in American politics. Reagan’s popularity helped to usher in a new era of conservatism in American politics. This conservative movement is still influential today.

Reagan’s presidency was not without its controversies, as his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal damaged his reputation. However, Reagan is still widely admired by many Americans. He is often ranked as one of the most transformative leaders in American history. His presidency coincided with a period of great change in the Soviet Union. Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union began to move towards democracy and free-market economics.

Reagan’s domestic policies were also highly influential. He championed laissez-faire economics and promoted a program of tax cuts known as “supply-side economics.” This philosophy, sometimes called “Reaganomics,” is credited with stimulating economic growth in the 1980s. However, it also led to a large budget. Conversely, his presidency was also marked by several major scandals. The Iran-Contra Affair is the most notorious example in this case. Members of the Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran with the aim of ensuring the release of Americans who were held hostage in Lebanon by terrorist organizations (Coste, 2018). The proceeds from the sale of these weapons were used back to right-wing rebel groups against a Congressional prohibition on such aid.

Leadership Style

Some scholars believe that Ronald Reagan was a transformational leader, while others believe he was more of a transactional leader. Transformational leaders are those who inspire change and motivate others to achieve goals that they may not have thought possible. Transactional leaders, on the other hand, focus more on exchanging rewards for performance. Based on his actions and policies as President, it seems that Ronald Reagan was primarily a transformational leader. For instance, one of Reagan’s key goals was to reorient government structure. He believed that government interference in people’s lives was inherently bad and that the less government there was, the better off people would be. This belief inspired him to pursue policies that would shrink the government, such as tax cuts and deregulation (Byrne, 2018). Reagan was also a strong advocate for free markets and individual liberty. He stated that individuals should be able to make their own decisions and succeed or fail based on their own abilities. This concept influenced his views on deregulation and privatization.

Reagan’s beliefs in limited government and free markets undoubtedly helped to inspire the economic boom of the 1980s. The economy grew by an average of 3.5% per year during his presidency, which was the highest rate since the 1960s (Byrne, 2018). Additionally, the unemployment rate fell from 10.8% in 1982 to 5.3% in 1988 (Byrne, 2018). These successful policies show that Ronald Reagan was indeed a transformational leader. While Ronald Reagan was primarily a transformational leader, he did display some transactional leadership qualities as well. For instance, he was known for exchanging rewards for performance. He often gave bonuses and raises to those who worked hard and met their goals. This type of behavior is typical of transactional leaders.

Additionally, Reagan was known for being very detail-oriented and hands-on when it came to his work. He often micromanaged his staff and expected them to follow his orders to the letter. This behavior is also indicative of a transactional leader. In this case, it seems that Ronald Reagan was primarily a transformational leader. While he did display some transactional leadership qualities, his primary focus was on inspiring change and motivating others to achieve goals that they may not have thought possible. His dedication to limited government and free markets helped to spur the economic boom of the 1980s and cement his legacy as one of America’s greatest presidents.

It is clear that Reagan had some qualities that helped him succeed as a leader, such as his strong work ethic and his ability to communicate effectively. However, it is also clear that he was not born into a leadership position – he had to work hard to get where he was. In conclusion, it is safe to say that Ronald Reagan was both born and made into a leader. Ronald Reagan was a transformative leader who had a positive influence on the entire world and in the U.S.

He redefined what it meant to be a conservative and helped in ending the Cold Battle. Coste (2018) further adds that “Reagan was more successful than any other president in history at articulating a vision of America that was optimistic, inclusive, and infused with a sense of moral purpose.” Reagan’s communication skills and his ability to inspire others were key factors in his success as a leader.

President Reagan’s influence on Domestic Policies and Foreign Affairs

President Ronald Reagan made significant proposals for a thirty percent reduction in both individual and corporate income taxes to last for a period of three years. President Reagan believed that such measures would stimulate the growth of America’s economy and finally ensures an increment in income levels, therefore, increasing revenues collected from taxes. Reagan also made proposals for an increase in military expenses significant reductions in spending on social welfare programs. Congress in 1981 passed a majority of the budget proposals made by President Ronald Reagan, which oversaw significant cuts in the government’s spending on education, low-income housing, the program of health insurance for the poor, and food stamps.

Upon his rise into office in 1980, President Ronald Reagan believed that the military capabilities of the United States had significantly declined and that the United States had lost the international respect it once had in global affairs. In his first years as the President, Reagan’s policies worsened the diplomatic relationships between the United States and the Soviet Union due to his militant anti-communism. During his first press conference as President of the United States, Reagan questioned the legitimacy of the Soviet Union and referred to it as an evil empire.

When Israeli invaded Lebanon in June 1982, President Ronald Reagan dispatched an army of eight hundred Marines to ensure the safe retrieval of Palestinian soldiers from West Beirut. The Marine soldiers remained in Beirut to protect the fragile Lebanese government after Israel withdrew from Beirut. The Marines were attacked in October 1983 by a suicide bombing. President Reagan took full blame for the tragedy, and in 1984, he withdrew the United States Marines from Lebanon, citing that they had suffered enough.

Reagan’s Controversies

Despite his accomplishments, Reagan also faced several controversies during his presidency. One of the most notable was the Contra Affair of Iran, where Reagan authorized the sale of weapons to finance anti-communist revolutionaries. This led to a congressional investigation, and several members of Reagan’s administration were convicted of criminal charges. Reagan also faced criticism for his handling of the economy, especially during the early years of his presidency. Some argued that he contributed to the economic recession by increasing interest rates and cutting government spending (Byrne, 2018). In addition to these controversies, Reagan also faced criticism for his stance on social issues. He was opposed to abortion and supported the use of military force to fight communism. As a result, he was often criticized by liberal groups. Despite these controversies, Reagan is still regarded as one of the most influential leaders in the history of America.

Reagan’s Retirement and Final Days

During the later months of his second term, Reagan began to suffer from deteriorating health. In March 1988, he acknowledged having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a kind of dementia that would eventually impair his memory and reasoning abilities. On January 22, 1989, shortly after his decision to retire from office was announced (in December 1988), he stated that he would not seek re-election and resigned (Byrne, 2018). Reagan spent the final years of his life at his house in Bel Air, Los Angeles County, where he was cared for by his wife. He died in 2004, at the age of 93.

President Ronald Reagan’s Legacy

Being one of the most prominent leaders in history, Reagan’s policies during the 1980s are credited with helping to revive the U.S. economy from the stagflation in the 1970s and facilitating the end of the Cold Battle. He also helped to redefine the Republican Party, shifting it away from its tradition of fiscal conservatism and towards a more socially conservative platform (Wills, 2017). Reagan’s critics argue that his policies favored the wealthy and contributed to income inequality. They also point to his support for right-wing rebel groups and dictators as evidence of his hypocrisy on democracy and human rights. Nonetheless, Reagan remains a highly popular figure among conservatives and is often ranked among the greatest presidents in history.


Ronald Reagan was a transformative leader who had a positive influence on both the United States and the rest of the world. He redefined what it meant to be a conservative, and his idea significantly helped in bringing the war to an end. Despite his controversies, Reagan remains among the most popular presidents in history. His legacy continues to be felt today. He represents a new kind of conservatism that is optimistic, inclusive, and infused with a sense of moral purpose that Americans refer to as “Reaganism.” Reagan’s communication skills and his ability to inspire others were key factors in his success as a leader. He will be remembered for his many accomplishments as President.


Byrne, D. T. (2018). Ronald Reagan: An Intellectual Biography. Lincoln, NE: Potomac Books.

Coste, F. (2018). WRITING THE LIFE OF RONALD REAGAN. Biography, 41(3), 654-669.

Ledebur, L. C. (2017). The Reagan Revolution and Beyond. In Rebuilding America’s Cities (pp. 191-208). Routledge.

Morgan, I. (2019). Make America Great Again: Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. In The Trump Presidency (pp. 59-82). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Nathan, R. P., & Doolittle, F. C. (2014). Reagan and the States. Princeton University Press.

Prasad, M. (2018). Starving the beast: Ronald Reagan and the tax cut revolution. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Wills, G. (2017). Reagan’s America: Innocents at home. New York, NY: Open Road Media.

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